Microsoft will invest €5.3m to drive regional innovation and growth through cloud applications in Europe
Microsoft has today opened a Cloud and Interoperability Centre (CIC) in Brussels to boost its ability to capitalise on the potential for innovation and growth of cloud computing in Europe.
The centre has been established as a result of the European Union’s (EU) pledge to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by the year 2020.
In supporting this goal, Microsoft said the €5.3 million (£4.7m) centre would facilitate “collaboration among major European corporations, small and midsized enterprises (SMEs), consumers, and public-sector organisations, as well as working with governments and EU decision makers”.
Developing policy framework
To achieve this aim, the software giant said the centre would help develop a policy framework for the use of cloud computing within a single EU digital market.
As a manifestation of Microsoft’s EU cloud ambitions, its opening today follows its announcement that it will focus 90 percent of its $9.5 billion global research and development (R&D) budget on cloud computing-related efforts.
Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said that cloud computing presents a huge opportunity to fuel economic growth of the region.
He also particularly talked up the benefits the centre could bring to SMEs. “For them, cloud computing creates a level playing field of opportunities, helping to drive innovation and economic growth and create new jobs,” he stated.
In addition, the centre will also host a Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC), which is designed to provide a public-private partnership between Microsoft and the government of the Brussels Capital region. As the second facility of its kind that Microsoft has established in Belgium, following the MIC in Mons, which was opened in 2009, it will provide young entrepreneurs with training to improve their technology and business skills, integrate them into fast-growing domains, such as cloud computing, and give them access to state-of-the-art technology facilities.
Cloud skills development
Microsoft also said it will host over 50 demos at the Brussels centre, showcasing the latest public sector, enterprise and consumer applications in e-government, healthcare, environment, education, and defence and national security. While Microsoft said most of these demos have been built on top of its software platforms, it said they would highlight the potential of cloud technology to boost economic competitiveness in the region.
The CIC also includes a local data centre with 25 servers that will host and drive innovative cloud applications and foster collaborative approaches through its link to the broader network of Microsoft’s other data centres.
The centre will also play host to research conducted for the VENUS-C project. Microsoft is the initiator of and a major partner in the project, which is co-funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme to deploy cloud computing services for eScience, involving research institutions across Europe.